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A bigger boost for video gaming?

2019 is off to a record breaking start, but new law changes could mean even more profits

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John Aden, owner of Lucky Cuts Gaming Parlor in La Salle, stands in front of the VIP machine in his recently opened business. Changes to the number of machines allowed in an establishment and the maximum bet could create more profits for businesses and the state and the near future.

So far in 2019, there have been 1,344 active video gaming machines played in La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties. By the end of the year, that number has the potential to increase significantly due to recent changes in the legislation surrounding video gambling in Illinois.

When the new gaming bill passed through the Illinois Legislature in June, it implemented sports betting and expanded the casino market.

But there were also a few changes to current video gaming laws for local residents to watch out for.

What’s changed?

Bigger bets, bigger payouts: Before, a player could bet a maximum of $2 on each spin in the video slots. That will soon double to a max bet of $4, meaning a bettor could lose money at a faster rate. However, their payouts could be bigger too.

The biggest payout on a max bet will increase from $500 to $1,199. And licensed establishments could provide a jackpot payout of up to $10,000. Gene O’Shea with the Illinois Gaming Board said there is not an exact timeline for when the new rules will be implemented, but residents could start seeing changes in the coming months.

More machines: Currently, no establishment in Illinois is allowed more than five machines. But the new law will soon allow up to six for establishments. And, large truck stops (those within 3 miles of a highway interchange that sell 50,000 gallons of gas per month) are qualified to host up to 10 machines. And there will likely be a few places that qualify in the area, including Flying J in La Salle.

“We do plan to increase the capacity to 10 games for stores that qualify, and can confirm La Salle will be one of those locations,” said Stephanie Myers, external communications supervisor for Pilot Flying J. “We often have guests waiting to play, so decreasing their wait times will provide a better experience when visiting our locations.”

More taxes: While more machines and bigger bets could mean more profits for local businesses, the state did take a bigger piece of the pie.

“We were opposed to increasing the tax, but the fact that we were able to get a sixth machine and a larger wage was something we were in favor of,” said Dan Clausner, executive director of the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association. “We lost a little and we gained a little.”

Illinois will collect a 33% tax on video gaming, up from 30%. And that rate will increase again to 34% after a year.

Of the 30% that is currently collected, the state gets 25% and local municipalities get the remaining 5%. The establishment owners and terminal operators who maintain the machines split the rest of the profits.

No more gaming in malls? Illinois also put a stipulation that no new licenses would be granted to locations within malls. The Peru Mall does host one gaming parlor, Tracy’s Bistro, which is the city’s second highest earning location through June of this year.

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NewsTribune Online Editor covering Spring Valley and Dalzell. Contact him at (815) 220-6933 or svreporter@newstrib.com

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